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The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its guidelines for pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccination. On Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, they decided to change their guidelines for pregnant women considering the vaccine. Originally the organization was opposed to expectant mothers receiving the vaccine — unless of course, the mother was high risk.
Many experts have been highly disappointed by the WHO’s original stance on the subject. These experts have noted the inconsistency between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO’s guidelines.
The CDC has been saying that pregnant women should seek advice from their physicians about receiving the vaccine. They further noted that pregnant women are at a higher risk of having severe reactions to COVID-19.
Pregnancy lowers a woman’s immune system — making them more susceptible to infections. Women who have pre-existing conditions are at an even greater risk. Many of the experts believe the previous confusing guidelines between the CDC and WHO were not clear for those seeking advice.
Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have not been tested on pregnant women. However, they have not shown any signs of having harmful effects on animals. Experts have further stated that the technology used to create the vaccine has generally been known to be safe.
The new phrasing of the WHO’s guidelines says, “Based on what we know about this kind of vaccine, we don’t have any specific reason to believe there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women.”
This brings their guidelines closer to what the CDC has already stated about the vaccine and pregnancy. An obstetrician at Emory University — Dr. Denise Jamieson — stated that she “was very pleased to see that W.H.O. changed their guidance regarding offering the Covid-19 vaccine to pregnant women.”
Traditionally pregnant women have been left out of vaccine trials. However, they have been encouraged to be immunized for other diseases and influenza. These vaccines have been shown to be safe for pregnant woman and their unborn children.
The WHO’s new guidelines state the COVID-19 vaccine can be given to women in their second and third trimesters. Of course, it is still something these women should discuss with their physicians.
Written by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: Pregnant Women May Receive Covid Vaccines Safely, W.H.O. Says; by Apoorva Mandavilli
CDC: Vaccination Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
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